We join our heroes in Theed just as they discover they have only 86 seconds to search a massive datavault for just one tiny datacube of information…
The vault stretches out into a dark distance ahead of our heroes. A nearby guide gives them a diagram of it’s layout – 14 massive 7-story pits where each story leads into eight different corridors of datacubes.
Mathus and Dua stay put to scout the various terminals and relays near the entrance as Desric, Oskara, and Khron run off to examine the pits more closely. Oskara jetpacks into the nearest pit and quickly observes that each of those hallways contains 36 different datacubes. Assuming each hallways of each level of each pit contains the same number, this vault has over 28 thousand datacubes to sort through.
Mathus’ news isn’t much better. There’s a data access terminal beneath the countdown timer, but it’s secured and hardened with a feedback relay, a physical anti-tampering device specifically designed to provide painful electric feedback to anyone accessing the system without authorization. He could safely remove it if he had the full hour, but with the clock rapidly counting up he slices in regardless and hopes for the best.
Within he finds one of the most heavily fortified systems he’s interacted with, a system that is constantly pushing back in response to his intrusion. While finding the source of the overcounting proves difficult, he manages to slow all the computer networks down in the area to buy time for him and his friends. The close slows its advance, ticking upwards only once ever few seconds now, and what was 86 seconds becomes about 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, Dua is furiously trying to make sense of a cryptic information terminal that’s nearby. It looks like the CSA spared every expense in building this facility, including purchasing a secondhand cataloguing system from the Huttese. Through a few nearby handwritten notes she’s able t switch the terminal from Huttese into a poor Basic translation.
The catalogue is capable of turning a subject of information into a catalogue entry and vice-versa. It completely lacks any means to turn those catalogue numbers into a location or map to find them unfortunately. With a bit of searching Dua is able to find the entry for the CSA border gravitometrics that they’ve been searching for endlessly, 6.07.15.22.
What follows is a frantic montage of searching. Mathus continues to hack the door mechanism to buy his friends more time. Oskara, Desric, and Khron frantically run the course of the vault trying to understand how this vault correlates to these confusing vault entries.
Through checking many entries back and forth with Dua, they are able to narrow down the right datacube’s location even though the cataloguing system remained a mystery. With less than a minute to go, they rush out of vault as Mathus jacks out and endures the shock of the feedback system, rushing back to the surface of Theed to make their way back.
Hutts don’t count in base-10 like the rest of the galaxy, they count in base 8. What looked like 6.07.15.22 was actually 184.108.40.206 – level 6, aisle 7, pit 13, cube 18. Kudos to our heroes for finding a clever workaround that didn’t require “solving” the puzzle per-se.
There’s not nearly enough self-congratulation in these recaps so let me fix that. I chose 6.07.15.22 deliberately to provide a few clues:
* 14 pits, 7 levels, 8 directions, 36 bins. Since the catalogue number has two numbers higher than 14, that’s an immediate clue that something is fishy
* All numbers in the cataloguing system a leading zero except for the first entry, hinting that it is the only one which can be represented by a single digit. If 7 levels can be represented by 1 digit and 8 hallways can’t, that’s another hint about base-8 numbering
Walking the Walker
Our heroes hear the unmistakable sound of battle above them as they narrowly escape the vault. They enter the streets of Theed and see several nearby Gungan squads along the riverfront exchanging fire with Royalists across the water.
With the Gungans distracted for now, our heroes sneak across an alley towards a nearby building to join the fray. Oskara grabs a tight hold of Khron and jetpacks to the roof while Desric, Mathus, and Dua enter the ground floor. Khron and Oskara creep along the rooftop to find an advantageous firing position as they see a Gungan walker enter the fight.
Jetpacks carrying two people was a little too good. For future reference, I now deliberately say that a jetpack for two can safely do a controlled descent or can take flight by overloading the engines and causing some major mechanical duress.
Mathus, Due, and Desric find a suitable position from which to fight on the first floor and give Khron the signal to let loose the gates of hell, or more specifically, his Plasma Missile. The missile only does minor damage to the Walker but nearly kills the two occupants and fills the open-topped walker with smoke. The smoke proves no obstacle for Oskara and she takes out one of the riders in the aftermath.
Mathus manages to punch through the comlink interference they’ve experienced since emerging from the undertunnels of Theed. By using the party’s comlinks he can triangulate the source of the interference to the Royal Palace and is able to temporarily cut through it. Dua gets on the line and discovers the Daredevils are the ones fighting the Gungans and are preparing to withdraw now that the walker’s arrived.
Dua desperately tries to convince them that victory is almost at hand and that they need to continue to fight. Unfortunately she does too good a job – inspired by her rhetoric, their Trandoshan friend emerges from cover and leads a charge towards the Gungan line.
Khron unleashes a hail of auto-fire barrage upon the Gungan walker. When the smoke clears the walker is stumbling and the two occupants are no longer moving, so Oskara seizes the opportunity to jetpack aboard. She lands pretty hard but it still able to wrest control of the walker’s weaponry
Surrounded and outgunned, the remaining Gungans lay down their weapons and surrender. As our heroes and the few surviving Daredevils gather to discuss their next steps, another dark impulse spreads from the jewel embedded in Desric’s hand and compels him to make an example of the Gungans to keep them in line. He pulls out a blaster and executes one in full sight of his friends, his allies, and the other now-terrified Gungan prisoners. The friendly Trandoshan is the only one impressed by Desric’s brutality and introduces himself as Mrash Blackscales.
Only took four sessions but the friendly Trandoshan finally gets a name. Congrats, Mrash.
A quick search of the Gungans reveals a few credits and a map indicating the location of the vault. Between the mysterious signal, the active resistance in the vault to Mathus’ hacking, and now this map, it’s clear that their mission in Theed is being actively opposed by someone. The party places the few surviving Gungans in binders and walks them back to the Royal Palace, leaving the damaged and nearly immobile walker behind.
As they near the Palace, Mrash grows sheepish and uses the excuse of the Gungan prisoners to part ways. Clearly sensing something is amiss, the party nonetheless heads into the Palace since it is the most direct route back to their ship.
Inside they are confronted by a detachment of the Naboo Royal Guard led by Barrister Corvus Tull. He pronounces they are to be detained and taken to an “impromptu tribunal” for aiding the enemy in a time of war. The party, surprised, looks at one another as Mrash watches helplessly.
From nowhere Mathus produces a smokebomb and drops it at his feet. Our heroes dash out the way they came. In the confusion with smoke pouring out behind them, Dua breaks into hysterics about a fire and summoning nearby guards to help quell it. She manages to create a traffic jam of sorts between city guards rushing into the palace and Royal Guards rushing out.
They take the opportunity to head to the cliffside lifts down to the makeshift Free City of Theed in the starport below. The crowd has grown even more restless despite the late hour. Dua and Desric work the crowd to find out why – apparently the Royalists suffered a significant military defeat while our heroes were in the waterways below Theed. The crowd is increasingly frustrated by the Monarchy’s military failures as well as afraid of what the Gungans may do to with their newfound advantage.
The crowd is swarming towards the Palace and marketplaces so Dua leads them on the outskirts of the market. The timing is perfect as the city holoterminals come alive with a report from none other than Nola Alaris. She launches into an expose on the recent arrival of a band of mercenaries and how they must be tied to these military setbacks. With some annoyance she describes these five mercenaries (since her footage of them was destroyed by Mathus previously) but she nonetheless manages to describe our heroes in detail.
The party splits up with everyone making their own way back to the Triumphant Failure. Desric arrives first and learns the Starport Authority is suspending all off-planet travel. He launches into a tall tale about how these betrayers have likely already fled Theed and that he needs to hunt these traitors off-planet before its too late. With that same comlink interference at work, the Starport isn’t able to confirm any of this with the government but takes Desric at his word.
Our heroes reunite, board the Triumphant Failure, and make their way back to Centerpoint for their payoff…